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Hot Stove: 11/22

A new header makes its debut, and a flurry of deals were made, including the longest deal of the offseason so far at 3 years, and a pair of new Nationals.

Stat of the Day: Home Run 

Abbreviation: HR. All Time Leader: Barry Bonds (762). Single Season Leader: Barry Bonds (73 in 2001). Active Leader: Alex Rodriguez (647).

It's the central stat in baseball. How many home runs did he hit? Who homered last night?  veryone knows the most prolific home run hitters in baseball history are Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds. Aaron's chase of Ruth's record and Bonds' chase of Aaron's record were some of the most well-publicized events in baseball history. Contrary to popular belief, Barry Bonds does not hold the professional baseball home run record. Two additional players are ahead of him: Josh Gibson and Sadaharu Oh. Gibson hit his home runs playing in numerous leagues, including the Negro Leagues, in the 1930's and 1940's, eventually amounting to more than 800. Oh, the greatest hitter in Japanese history, hit 868 home runs over his 22-year career in Japan. In 1964, he set a Japanese record with 55 home runs. Like many stats, the home run has changed since baseball's early days. From the games inception in the 19th century until the 1920's, the home run was both rare and frowned upon. It was not uncommon for a player to lead the majors in home run with just 15 or so home runs, and Frank "Home Run" Baker led the AL in home runs for four straight years from 1911-1914, despite never hitting more than 12 home runs in a single season. In 1919, the last year of the Dead Ball Era, Babe Ruth hit 29 home runs to grab the entire baseball world's attention. Then, in 1920, he flipped it upside down with 54 home runs, topping second-place George Sisler's total of just 19. Not a single player other than Ruth would hit 50 home runs in a season until Hack Wilson of the Cubs knocked 56 in 1930. This is because back then, baseball's central stat was the batting average, not the home run. "Hit it where they ain't" was the philosophy back then. "Well, they ain't in the stands, so I hit it there" was Ruth's response. One interesting story surrounding Ty Cobb has to do with the home run, though he was one of its most adamant opposers. In 1925, the 38-year-old Cobb announced that for the first time in his career, he was going to intentionally hit home runs. By the time the dust cleared, he had hit five home runs in just two days, which is still tied for the most home runs over a two-day span. Rogers Hornsby, who could be called the National League's most prolific home run hitter during the time of Ruth, claimed he never once tried to hit a home run. He would just hit it and it would fly out. Over time, however, the home run has become more and more glorified, and with players like Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Stan Musial hitting 30 to 40 home runs per year in the 1940s, it replaced batting average as baseball's central stat.

News

Blue Jays hired John Gibbons as their new manager.

The massive Blue Jays-Marlins trade that included Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes has now been officially announced.

The Cubs designated Bryan LaHair (16 HR, 40 RBI, .259 AVG, 4 SB, 2013 age: 30) for assignment, meaning they have ten days to either trade, demote, or release him.

Free Agent Signings

Blue Jays signed Melky Cabrera (11 HR, 60 RBI, .346 AVG, 13 SB, 2013 age: 28) to a two year, $16 million deal ($8 million per season).

Yankees resigned Hiroki Kuroda (16-11, 3.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2013 age: 38) to a one year, $15 million deal.

Red Sox agreed to terms with Jonny Gomes (18 HR, 47 RBI, .262 AVG, 3 SB, 2013 age: 32) on a two year, $10 million deal ($5 million per season).

Marlins signed Juan Pierre (1 HR, 25 RBI, .307 AVG, 37 SB, 2013 age: 34) to a one year, $1.6 million deal.

Nationals signed Will Rhymes (1 HR, 8 RBI, .228 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age; 30) to a minor league deal.

Nationals also signed Fernando Abad (0-6, 5.09 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 2013 age: 27) to a minor league deal.

Royals resigned Jeremy Guthrie (8-12, 4.76 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 2013 age: 34) to a three year, $25 million deal ($8.33 million per season).

Cubs signed Brian Bogusevic (7 HR, 28 RBI, .203 AVG, 15 SB, 2013 age: 29) to a minor league deal.

Diamondbacks signed Kila Ka'aihue (4 HR, 14 RBI, .234 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 29) to a minor league deal.

Blue Jays signed Alex Hinshaw (1-1, 6.04 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 2013 age: 30) to a minor league deal.

The Blue Jays reeled in Melky Cabrera, arguably the most controversial free agent on the market. He will be playing for his fifth team in as many years, previously having played for the Yankees ('09), Braves ('10), Royals ('11), and Giants ('12). After a career year in 2011 when Melky hit 18 home runs, knocked in 87, and batted .305 with 20 stolen bases for the Royals, he was off to an even better start in 2012. 113 games into the season, he had 11 home runs and was batting .346 with 13 stolen bases, but tested positive for testosterone supplements, a Performance Enhancing Drug, and was subsequently banned for the rest of the season and benched for the postseason. The Blue Jays, however, are willing to take a chance on Melky, hoping that his 2011 form was true and clean, and that the 28 year old Dominican can return to it. Over his eight-year career, he hit 69 home runs and batted .284 with 84 stolen bases. He will join Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista, Emilio Bonifacio, and Moises Sierra in a suddenly crowded Toronto outfield.

Jonny Gomes will join the Red Sox as a possible replacement for free agent Cody Ross. He had a solid season last year, despite playing in pitchers' heaven Oakland Coliseum. Over just 48 road games, he managed 11 home runs and batted .273. His best year was his rookie year, 2005, when he hit 21 home runs and batted .282 for the Devil Rays. He has been a steady bat since then, and even played in 43 games for the Nationals in 2011. Finishing last year with 18 home runs, he looks to add a power bat to the Boston lineup. Over his 10-year career, he hit 136 home runs and batted .244 with 48 stolen bases.

These may be two small signings, but the Nationals brought on a pair of new faces. Houston native Will Rhymes and Dominican Fernando Abad will join them for Spring Training in 2013. Rhymes, an infielder, has played 130 major league games for the Tigers and Rays over the past three years, batting .266 along the way. After hitting .304 with a home run in a 54 game stint for Detroit in 2010, he has had a rough go around over the past two years, combining for one home run and a .231 average over 76 games. At AAA Durham last year, he hit four home runs and batted .256 over 46 games. Fernando Abad is a reliever who has spent his entire career in the Astros organization, going 1-11 with a 5.10 ERA over three seasons. Like Rhymes, Abad's best year came in his rookie 2010, when he posted a 2.84 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP over 22 appearances. And, like Rhymes, he struggled over the past two years, going 1-10 with a 5.76 ERA over 66 appearances. The lefty pitched well at AAA Oklahoma City last year, going 2-0 with a 3.90 ERA over 13 games (3 starts).  

Trades

Orioles traded Robert Andino (7 HR, 28 RBI, .211 AVG, 5 SB, 2013 age: 29) to the Mariners for Trayvon Robinson (3 HR, 12 RBI, .221 AVG, 6 SB, 2013 age: 25).

Rockies traded Matt Reynolds (3-1, 4.40 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 2013 age: 28) to the Diamondbacks for Ryan Wheeler (1 HR, 10 RBI, .239 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 23-24).

Cubs traded minor leaguer Jacob Brigham (5-7, 4.72 ERA, 1.43 WHIP at AA, 2013 age: 25) to the Rangers for minor leaguer Barret Loux (14-1, 3.47 ERA, .251 BAA at AA, 2013 age: 24).

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Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies

If your team is not included, please leave a comment.

HR: home runs.  RBI: runs batted in.  AVG: batting average.  SB: stolen bases.  ERA: earned run average. WHIP: walks/hits per innings pitched.  K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage

Zack Silverman

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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